The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins today with Russia taking on Saudi Arabia. Millions of people around the globe will cease non-football-related activities and have their eyes glued to their televisions or smartphones as the football world has it’s quadrennial, month-long party.
In a previous article, I simulated the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Football Manager 2018. Now, I will share with you my personal predictions for the tournament using a spreadsheet that you can download here.
This is most probably the only non-FM related article I will ever publish on this blog.
Group A Prediction
Host nation Russia, who will defeat Saudi Arabia 3-0, will finish second in their group behind Uruguay. Egypt will narrowly miss out on a spot in the Round of 16. The Egypt vs Russia game will be very messy due to being played between two teams who usually sit back and defend.
Uruguay will win all of their games in their group. At the other end, Saudi Arabia will exit with three losses and a -14 goal difference. The Saudis will suffer an 8-0 hammering to Uruguay, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will run rampant !
Group B Prediction
Spain, who fired their manager just one day before the start of the tournament, will live to regret that choice. The 2010 champions will lose to Portugal and draw with IR Iran and Morocco. I predict that the morale within the Spain camp will have dropped to the point where we will have another France 2010 situation.
Morocco will make it through to the Round of 16 thanks to the turmoil in the Spanish team. IR Iran will exit without a win.
Group C Prediction
Tournament favorites France will top the group, two points ahead of Denmark. The French will win both of their opening games before slipping to a 2-2 draw with Denmark in their final group game.
As for the Danes, they will finish in the second place slot ahead of Peru. While Peru will have the services of Paolo Guerrero, I still do not think they will have enough to advance.
Australia will go out without winning a game or earning a point. The Aussies will score at least once against Denmark.
Group D Prediction
Ah, Group D. In my opinion, this is the Group of Death ! Argentina will kick off their campaign with a 2-1 win against debutants Iceland. However, the South American juggernaut will fall to two narrow defeats to Nigeria and Croatia which will see Lionel Messi’s boys exit the tournament early.
Every FIFA World Cup in the modern age (2002- present) has had a footballing superpower fail to advance from the group. This year, Argentina will be that unfortunate team. Iceland will continue their “fairytale” from Euro 2016 by drawing with group winners Nigeria and beating Croatia.
This is the toughest group at the tournament. All four teams are good enough to go through. However, Argentina and Croatia will be heading home.
Group E Prediction
Now onto Neymar and Brazil. The Selecao will dominate Group E by defeating Switzerland 3-0, Costa Rica 5-1, and Serbia 4-1. The five time World Cup winners will top the group with a perfect three wins out of three.
Meanwhile, Switzerland will earn second place by decisively beating Serbia 2-1. Sadly for CONCACAF, Costa Rica will be rooted to the bottom of the table and will not be able to replicate their 2014 quarter final run.
Group F Prediction
As some of you may know, I speak German and have always supported Germany’s national team. I tried to be as unbiased as possible in this prediction. Die Mannschaft’s first game against Mexico will be a 2-2 draw. Then, the World Champions will barley beat Sweden 2-1 before thrashing South Korea 3-0.
As usual in tournament football, Germany will start slow before turning up the quality and efficiency. Mexico will finish behind Die Mannschaft in second place thanks to a thrilling 3-2 win over Sweden. South Korea will exit the group along with the Swedes.
Group G Prediction
Remember how I said in the Group D prediction that every modern day World Cup has a surprise exit ? Well, every World Cup in the modern day has a surprise package, too ! England will suffer a 1-0 defeat to Tunisia in their opening game. The Three Lions will rout Panama 4-0 before losing 3-0 to Belgium.
England, often over-hyped and overrated in the British media, will suffer an Iceland 2.0 in this World Cup. To make things even more agonizing for the English, the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia will advance with a negative goal difference. Belgium should have no problems topping the group and winning all of their games.
Oh, and, if England advance from the group, they will either lose in 90 minutes in the Round of 16 or make it to the quarterfinals and lose on penalties.
Group H Prediction
Poland will top Group H ahead of Colombia on goal difference. Senegal will be unable to replicate their 2002 World Cup quarterfinal run and will exit at the group stage. The African side will earn three points against Japan, who will also be heading home after the group phase.
In the knockout rounds, Uruguay will defeat Morocco 2-0 but will then lose to France 1-0. Since this spreadsheet does not allow me to put a penalty shootout victory, I will also say that the Uruguay vs France quarterfinal could go to penalties.
The French will defeat Iceland 2-0 and will meet Brazil, who will knock out Mexico and Belgium, in the semis.
Belgium will get the better of Colombia 3-1 before losing to the Brazilians. Hosts Russia will lose to Spain, who will defeat Denmark in the quarterfinals. Nigeria’s quraterfinal hopes will be ruined by the Danes.
World Champions Germany will get the better of Switzerland 2-1 (or possible penalties) and will knock out Poland 4-2 in the quarterfinals. Tunisia’s run will come to an end against the Poles.
In the semi finals, France will defeat Brazil 1-0 while Germany will get the better of Portugal 2-0 (or penalties). Brazil will win the third place playoff 2-1 against Portugal and Germany will be crowned World Champions again by defeating France 1-0.
Let’s all hope for a fun, safe, and enjoyable tournament in Russia. As an American, good luck and safe travels to my fellow Americans who are making the trip.
Personally, 2014 was my favorite World Cup so if this World Cup is half as good, and if Germany reach at least the semi finals, I will be satisfied. I will leave you with a few more predictions.
Golden Boot: Thomas Müller (Germany)
Golden Glove: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen or Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Most Assists: Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Golden Ball: Neymar (Brazil) or Paul Pogba (France)
Best Young Player: Gabriel Jesus (Brazil) or Youri Tielemans (Belgium)
FIFA Fair Play: Belgium
Best Stadium (this is not an actual FIFA Award): Fisht Stadium (Sochi)
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